Mayor to use road cameras to deliver crime fighting boost for London

11 February 2014

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today revealed proposals to boost crime fighting by giving the Met Police access to more than 1,000 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) road cameras across the capital.

The ANPR camera network allows speedy identification of vehicles, such as stolen cars or vehicles involved in crimes, and data from these cameras has already played a key role in solving a number of serious crimes in London.

The Mayor wants to enable the Met Police to catch more criminals on the capital’s roads by delivering on his 2012 manifesto pledge to allow the force routine access to Transport for London’s 1,300 ANPR road cameras.

The Met already collects ANPR data by using their own limited network of cameras to investigate crimes and to intercept vehicles that have been linked to crime. ANPR data was crucial in identifying and bringing about the conviction of the five young men responsible for the murder of 16 year old Hani Abou El Kheir in Pimlico in January 2013. In September 2013, it was used to trace and arrest the occupant of a car who had allegedly attempted to abduct a child.

Gaining access to TfL’s network of cameras - which enforce London’s Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone - will triple the coverage available to the Met, enabling them to keep London even safer. The police will ensure that this data is only used in the public interest and there are strong safeguards enforced, to guard against misuse and a ‘surveillance state’.

Today the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is launching a period of public engagement to explain the proposed changes and to find out Londoners’ views so that the Met Police can take steps to address any concerns. From 11 February until 8 April 2014, Londoners will be able to give their views by visiting the Talk London online community at www.talk.london.gov.uk.

Today, the Mayor Boris Johnson saw the ANPR cameras in action on the A21 in Orpington, during a visit to Bromley, where he also met with young people from the local Youth Offending Team. He said: “I want London to be the safest big city in the world and, to help us continue to drive down crime, we need to use technology in a smart way. Opening up access to TfL’s extensive network of cameras will enable the Met to track down more criminals and crack down on more crimes.”

Neil Winterbourne, Detective Superintendent said: "Over the next two months there is a chance for Londoners to find out more about how the Met uses ANPR to fight crime. The Met has put a lot into ANPR over the last two years and the progress we have made is fantastic, but without TfL camera data our ability to combat crime all over London will be severely reduced. We think that the results speak for themselves, more arrests, more seizures of uninsured vehicles and more cases solved with ANPR.

“We don't need and can't afford two of everything, so we think the Met and TfL should co-operate to get the most out of ANPR cameras the public have already paid for. We also want to listen to concerns people have. We welcome the opportunity to be more transparent and to explain just how tightly we manage our access to and use of this data. We hope this will give people the confidence and reassurance they need."

 

Notes to editors

  • The Mayor's crime manifesto, published in April 2012, stated an intention to give the Metropolitan
  • Police Service (MPS) access to Transport for London's (TfL's) Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) data, for the purpose of crime prevention and detection.
  • In line with this manifesto commitment, it is now proposed, subject to the outcome of this public engagement period, that the data feed from cameras currently used by TfL for the central London Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) and London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) be made accessible to the MPS for crime investigation and interception purposes.
  • The campaign will provide an opportunity to test the proposal and address any issues arising from it. The campaign will run for 8 weeks from 11 February 2014.
  • TALK LONDON: Talk London is the Greater London Authority’s online space for Londoners to come to have positive debate about the issues that matter to them, to help shape their city.
  • DATA PROTECTION ACT (DPA): The DPA is national regulation that governs the use of personal data. As ANPR data can be linked to vehicle owners it is considered personal data and subject to the provisions and regulations in this act.
  • Police ANPR policy: robust national and Met police policy exists on how ANPR data should be stored, used and accessed.